Birds of North Carolina:
their Distribution and Abundance
Greater Yellowlegs - Tringa melanoleuca
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General Comments This large shorebird is a noisy, numerous, and conspicuous part of the shorebird fauna as it passes through the state in spring and fall; many overwinter along and near the coast. Greater Yellowlegs forage with many other species of shorebirds on mudflats and shallow water of pools and impoundments; though favoring fresh water, it also feeds in brackish and salt water. It is never truly abundant in the state, but it is one of the most frequently seen shorebirds around extensive mudflats, both inland and along the coast.
Breeding Status Nonbreeder
NC BRC List Definitive
State Status
U.S. Status
State Rank S4N
Global Rank G5
Coastal Plain Transient and winter resident. Common migrant, and fairly common in winter, along the entire coast, somewhat more numerous in winter along the southern coast than northward; scarce in early summer. In the Tidewater zone, fairly common to common in migration, and uncommon to fairly common in winter. Farther inland, fairly common migrant, but rare in winter, and mainly a straggler into early winter (and seldom overwintering). Mainly mid-Jul to mid-May, but small numbers along the coast all year. Inland, mostly mid-Mar to mid-May, and mid-Jul to late Nov, but there are many winter records. Peak counts: ?
Piedmont Transient. Fairly common in spring and fall (and can be locally common in fall), rarely straggling into early winter, and very rare by mid-Jan (not overwintering). Mainly mid-Mar to mid-May, and mid-Jul to late Nov, with small numbers in Dec and into Jan; apparently no Feb records, and very rare in early summer. Peak counts: 270, Jordan Lake, 9 Apr 1980; 80, Lake Raleigh (Wake), 12 Sep 1971.
Mountains Transient. Uncommon at low elevations (below 3,000 feet), more numerous in spring than in fall; less common at higher elevations; mostly late Mar to late May, and late Jul to early Nov. One photographed at Brookshire Park (Watauga) on 17 Jun 2020 was unusual for that month. Apparently the only winter record is one at Lake Osceola (Henderson) on 20 Dec 2020. Peak count: 8, Price Lake (Watauga), 29 Apr 1978.
Finding Tips Although it might be difficult to find at some inland sites, it is easy to find in migration near the coast, especially at impoundments such as at Pea Island.
Attribution LeGrand[2023-03-11], LeGrand[2021-05-17], LeGrand[2020-10-20]
NC Map
Map depicts all counties with a report (transient or resident) for the species.
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